A Taste of the Culture & History at The Charleston City Market

A Taste of the Culture & History at The Charleston City Market

Open everyday of the year (that’s right, including holidays!), The Charleston City Market is one of our favorite ways to get a dose of Charleston history and culture. Lined with vendors, selling everything from handcrafted sweet grass baskets to plates of Charleston BBQ, and local works of art to Charleston-made jewelry, The Charleston City Market is the ideal place to purchase gifts, home décor, and beautiful accessories, as well as grab a bite of Lowcountry delights!

Specifically, the Market area is four blocks in length, spanning from East Bay Street to Meeting Street.

As for how The Charleston City Market came to be, it’s beginnings date back to the early 1800s when Charles Cotesworth Pinckney declared that a market area be built to house vendors selling meat, vegetables, and fish. And back then, the vendors rented space for a mere $1 – $2 per day! That would be some seriously affordable real estate nowadays . . .

Since the 1800s, Charleston has seen a handful of natural disasters, including earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes, as well as fires, which all affected the Market structures. After a fire destroyed the Masonic Hall (located at the corner of Market and Meeting Streets), a new Market Hall was built by Edward Brickwell White, who actually used a copy of the Temple of the Wingless Victory in Athens, Greece.

Because the Charleston Market is one of the country’s oldest and most culturally enriched markets, the American History Museum in Washington D.C. actually has an exhibit dedicated to The Charleston City Market, titled “Life in Coastal South Carolina c. 1840.”

Below are some pictures we took from a recent stroll through The Charleston City Market:

Charleston city market

Recipe & history books on Charleston

sweetgrass baskets

Sweetgrass baskets

charleston market

Locally made wine bottle bags, wallets, glasses cases, and more!

charleston attractions

Charleston t-shirts

Charleston art

Charleston insect art

Charleston market

Colorful wire bowls

Charleston art

Charleston art

Charleston gates

Traditional Charleston gates jewelry

Charleston cuisine

Charleston-made snacks and goodies!

charleston cuisine

Nothing beats stone ground grits!

Charleston tours

Charleston-made dish bases

charleston art

Hand-made dolls

sweetgrass baskets

Sweetgrass baskets

Charleston art

Locally made Charleston art!

For an even deeper insight into the history of downtown Charleston, embark on a Charleston Harbor Tours + Palmetto Carriage Ride combination tour. Click here for more details about this combination history tour in Charleston!

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  • Charleston Sweetgrass Baskets: A Look at the History of Sweetgrass

    [...] Sweetgrass basket making is a craft that is learned at a very young age and requires a great deal of creativity since there are no standard patterns that basket makers use. Because each artist practices his or her own style the sweetgrass baskets you’ll find in the Lowcountry are each completely unique. And it wasn’t until the 1890s that the sweetgrass baskets began to be used as household staples as opposed to agricultural tools. Today, the sweetgrass baskets you’ll find do not contain bulrush and split oak. Instead, the baskets usually contain only palmetto and sweetgrass. [...]
  • Tina Kirby

    Hello! We've been trying to find a way to get in touch with a vendor at the market. We purchased 2 t-shirts a couple of wks ago & 1 doesn't fit. We'd like to order another size & have it mailed to us. During our search we found your website & saw a picture of the tshirts we bought above your heading 'Charleston t-shirts'! Is there any way we can get a message to this vendor to call us or a number for us to call them? We didn't get a receipt so we don't have a name or number for them. We do know the business is owned by a couple & that they've been at the market since 1971. We think they are located in the 3rd or 4th building. If someone can help us, please respond to email above. Thank you so much!
    • Chas Harbor Tours

      Thanks for the comment! Try http://thecharlestoncitymarket.com/ for getting in touch with this vendor.
  • Sue & Joe McCreary

    We came to the market place and bought some fried okra that was absolutely delicious! We'd love to get more but do not have the receipt or remember the venders name! Can you help us?

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